By Dave Workman
Since her election to the U.S. Senate in the fall of 1992, liberal Democrat Patty Murray from Washington State could be counted on to vote in support of every important gun control measure on Capitol Hill, but now—facing a strong challenge from Republican newcomer Tiffany Smiley—could Evergreen State gun owners provide the muscle and momentum to defeat the anti-gun incumbent?
Murray is favored to win re-election and she is a darling of the liberal Western Washington news media, but a look at social media shows growing discontent for the woman who came into office known as “the mom in tennis shoes.” She votes the party line, is seen as part of the reason inflation is roaring, gas prices have spiked back upwards in her home state, and her gun owning constituents say she has never represented their interests in “the other Washington.” A heavy turnout of gun owners Nov. 8 could surprisingly tip the scales toward Murray’s Republican challenger, and repeated messages on Facebook asking for donations suggest to many Murray’s camp senses she could be in serious trouble.
Murray, like another Washington Democrat, Rep. Kim Schrier, is running on a platform stressing abortion. Critics say it’s because they cannot run on such issues as the economy, inflation or crime. Too many Washingtonians are suffering from higher gas and grocery prices and many retirees or those with 401K retirement plans have seen their savings destroyed due to Democrat policies. Gun owners are definitely part of that group, and a recent Rasmussen survey shows 89 percent of likely voters are worried about inflation, including 64 percent who are “very concerned.”
Earlier this year, Murray’s office released a statement in support of the so-called “Safer Communities Act”—a Joe Biden-backed gun control package—that made Washington state gun owners bristle.
“But let me be clear,” Murray stated, “we have to treat America’s gun violence crisis as a gun problem, not a mental health problem – we need universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and more investment in community violence intervention programs. With that in mind, I am continuing to work on a bipartisan package through the Senate HELP Committee to tackle America’s mental health and substance use disorder crises.”
Second Amendment activists insist crime is a criminal problem and that Murray and her Democrat colleagues are penalizing law-abiding gun owners because they lack the will to crack down on people committing the crimes. They appear to be increasingly leaning toward Smiley, who is raising big money and running ads telling her story. Here’s an example:
While the 71-year-old incumbent appears to have the edge in polling, and certainly the favor of the Puget Sound news establishment, she recently got into trouble with Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler for perpetuating a whopper about Republicans wanting to eliminate Social Security.
Depending upon the poll, Smiley appears to be edging closer to Murray, and some political observers are wondering whether scathing comments about Democrats from former-Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who dramatically quit the Democratic Party Oct. 11, may rub off on the four-term senator.
“I can no longer remain in today’s Democratic Party that is now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness,” Gabbard declared on Twitter, “who divide us by racializing every issue & stoke anti-white racism, actively work to undermine our God-given freedoms, that are enshrined in our constitution, who are hostile to people of faith, and spirituality, who demonize the police and protect criminals at the expense of law-abiding Americans, who believe in open borders, who weaponize the national security state to go after their opponents, and above all, who are dragging us ever closer to nuclear war.
“Now,” the once Democrat rising star added, “I believe in a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people. Unfortunately, today’s Democratic party does not.”
Murray’s history of voting against Washington gun owners includes her support of a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” which are in reality modern semiautomatic rifles owned by tens of millions of U.S. citizens.
She also voted to ban original capacity ammunition magazines, according to On The Issues. The same website said Murray voted against allowing Amtrak passengers to carry firearms in their checked baggage while traveling by rail. She voted against banning lawsuits against the firearms industry and supported background checks at gun shows, actually co-sponsoring one bill on that issue.
Murray did, however, vote Yes “on prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership.”
Sen. Murray has received an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association. According to the gun rights group, an “F” translates to “True enemy of gun owners’ rights. A consistent anti-gun candidate.”
After criticizing Smiley for offering no solutions to rising violent crime—so-called “gun violence” prevention—Murray stated, “We have made some important progress by passing bipartisan gun safety legislation this year — but we have to do more. I am fighting to advance common-sense gun safety measures like universal background checks and an assault weapons ban, which will save lives and keep weapons of war off our streets and out of the hands of criminals.
“Washingtonians who care about preventing gun violence can count on me to be a strong voice for the gun safety reforms we need,” Murray added.
But what does that say about Murray’s perspective toward law-abiding gun owners who oppose her gun control efforts? Does she believe those gun owners—more than 688,000 of her constituents are licensed to carry concealed defensive sidearms, according to recent data from the state Department of Licensing? By some estimates as many as 2 million of Washington’s 7.6 million residents are gun owners. If they are uniformly looking for a change, they would pose a virtually invincible voting bloc.
More than 21,000 more Washington residents obtained concealed pistol licenses in September. Many gun rights leaders, including Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, are wondering whether this surge in concealed carry will translate to votes at election time. The answer could come late in the evening on Nov. 8, or sometime the following day.